The tragic fate of such a well-known attraction, even one that was losing money, taps into the depressed mood of the city

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Jumbo Floating Restaurant, a faded Hong Kong landmark, sank in the South China Sea after being towed away from the city to an unknown destination.

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The imperial palace-shaped ship capsized on Sunday after taking on water in adverse conditions near the Paracel Islands, its owner Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises Ltd said. in a press release.

The rescue would be “extremely difficult” given the water depth of 1,000 meters, he said, adding that no crew members were injured.

For more than four decades, the Chinese restaurant was a familiar sight in the port of Aberdeen, in the south of Hong Kong Island. Opened by Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho in 1976, it has attracted visitors including Queen Elizabeth II and Tom Cruise, according to the restaurant’s website. He has also featured in films such as Contagion. But its appeal has faded in recent years, and the pandemic has forced it to suspend operations.

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Its owner, a unit of Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd., had previously tried to donate the restaurant to an amusement park, but the plan fell through, the company said in an earlier statement.

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The restaurant had racked up losses of HK$100 million ($12.7 million) since 2013, its owner said last month. The millions of Hong Kong dollars she was spending each year to repair and maintain the restaurant had become “a heavy burden on the company and its shareholders”, according to the statement.

The company planned to move the restaurant out of town for maintenance and storage while it sought new owners and a cheaper berth.

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The Aberdeen Restaurant is “very saddened by this accident”, the statement said. “The company is now obtaining further details of the accident from the towing company.”

The closed iconic Jumbo floating restaurant is leaving after the operator announced it would leave Hong Kong due to a lack of funds for maintenance, in Hong Kong, China June 14.
The closed iconic Jumbo floating restaurant is leaving after the operator announced it would leave Hong Kong due to a lack of funds for maintenance, in Hong Kong, China June 14. Photo by TYRONE UIS /Reuters

The tragic fate of such a well-known attraction, even though it lost money, taps into the depressed mood of the city. Expats and locals are leaving in droves as seemingly endless travel restrictions and Beijing’s tightening grip undermine Hong Kong’s future as an international financial hub. The lack of visitors has affected businesses that depend on tourist spending, with another icon – the Star Ferry – also warning of financial difficulties.

Corrected to remove erroneous reference to Nicole Kidman in third paragraph

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